Coming Home to Your Body: A Mindfulness-Based, Body Trust Approach

I. Introduction

A. Welcome

B. Identities/privileges

C. Group agreements

D. Goals

E. Define mindfulness

F. Mindfulness exercise – video: (animals scratching) or Live Animal Cam, e.g. ( Ask for feedback and what they noticed about how the animals exist in their bodies.

II. Defining Body Trust

A. Prompt: What is trust? How do you know when you trust someone? 

B. Body Mistrust: aesthetics over comfort, denial of wants/needs, productivity at all costs, object over subject (image of baby doing happy baby pose)

C.  Trust as bidirectional: I can trust my body, and my body can trust me. 

  1. My body knows what it needs and wants. I don’t have to intervene. I can trust my body to know when to eat, stop eating, work, rest, move, and function effectively.
  2. My body can rely on me, its caregiver, to provide for its needs. I am a reliable, trustworthy caregiver of my body (per research on child development around trust, we do this through providing reliable care, comfort, and food).

 III. What interferes with Body Trust as we develop?

A. Prompt: What messages have you received about your body being wrong? When did you first encounter – or remember encountering – these messages?

B. Diet culture: define and give examples (e.g., child going to dr and gets a BMI lecture)

C. Family messaging: define and give examples (e.g., limiting food amount/type, comments/judgments about appearance – e.g., weight, hairiness, skin color). Show Lily Myers video:

D. Trauma: natural consequences of disconnection/disassociation

E. Systems that differentially prioritize and marginalize certain bodies: define and give examples (e.g., racism, homophobia, fatphobia, etc.). Listen to clip of Sabrina Strings discussing the racist roots of diet culture.  

F. Healthism and conflation of health and weight: define and give examples.

IV. 10 Practices That Can Help You Reclaim Body Trustand Mindfully Come Home to Your Body

Introduction: What I Love About My Body:

A. Understand how diets cause harm.

  1. APA article:
  2. Evelyn Tribole video:
  3. Weight science summary – how diets interfere with the body’s regulatory mechanisms and how the body fights back:
  4. Explain how dieting causes detachment from needs/wants (intake guided by thoughts, not sensations/experiences).
  5. Connect dieting/diet culture to oppression: “A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth

B. Explore the HAES philosophy.

  1. Present HAES principles:
  2. Flegal’s research on health/weight:
  3. Poodle Science video:

C. Identify and live your values.

  1. Prompt: What are three things you want said about you at the end of your life? 
  2. Sample values inventory: (example)
  3. Explore discrepancy between values and actions/thinking.

D. Externalize shame and identify and treat trauma.

  1. Katie Makkai “Pretty” video:
  2. Brainwashing around food, weight, appearance, acceptance – who profits off of. . . Lizzo video on body positivity:
  3. Define fatphobia and weight stigma.
  4. Present expanded definition of trauma, including racism, weight stigma. 
  5. Explain how trauma separates us from our bodies, teaches us that our bodies are wrong (reference a hunger so wide and deep).
  6. Exercise: Working with Shame: (p. 32)

E. Cultivate self-compassion

  1. Define self-compassion (per Kristen Neff:
  2. Prompt: What would it be like to be more self-compassionate? How do others respond to you when you are compassionate toward them? How do you imagine your body would respond to increased self-compassion? 
  3. Mindfulness exercise: loving kindness meditation: (p. 20) 

F. Explore body reconnection/embodiment.

  1. Prompt: What does it mean to be connected to your body? What makes you feel connected, disconnected? When do you feel most at peace in your body? Most in your body? What interferes with you being connected to your body?
  2. Define embodiment.
  3. Mindfulness exercise: Sensory Awareness (from DBT Handouts, p. 337 prompts).

G. Create a healthy relationship with food.

  1. Prompt: What kind of relationship do you have with food? If your relationship with food were a relationship with another person, how would you describe this relationship? How does your relationship with food reflect other aspects of your life?
  2. Definition of normal eating per Ellyn Satter:,miss%20out%20on%20enjoyable%20food.&text=In%20short%2C%20normal%20eating%20is%20flexible.
  3. Principles of IE:

H. Seek out pleasure and joy.

  1. Mindfulness “participate” exercise (e.g., count to 10 as a group).
  2. Prompts: What brings you pleasure? What brings you joy? How often do you pursue pleasure and joy? What interferes with you experiencing them?
  3. Video on body acceptance and pleasure/sex:
  4. Prompt: Discuss the link between pleasure/joy and Body Trust  – if  you were to allow yourself more joy and pleasure, what might that mean for developing Body Trust?

I. Create a healthy relationship with movement.

  1. Mindfulness exercise – movement/breathing/stretching exercise:
  2. Myths about exercise and how to challenge them:
  3. Benefits of movement outside of weight control:
  4. Define intuitive exercise, using inventory: 
  5. Prompts for intuitive exercise:
  • Do you trust your body to tell you when to  exercise, what activity to choose, and how much exercise to do?
  • Do you honor your body’s signals and stop exercising when you’re tired or in pain? 
  • Do you engage in a variety of forms of exercise?
  • Would you exercise the same way if you knew that your appearance or weight wouldn’t change?
  • Do you enjoy different types of exercise?
  • Do you exercise when not in the mood to do so? Or when too tired to do so? 
  • Do you exercise to cope with negative emotions, even when you don’t feel like exercising?

6. Movement reframes:

J. Practice body acceptance and respect.

  1. Prompt: How do you know when you accept something? Respect it? What interferes with acceptance and respect?
  2. Video: Befriend the Body with Jon Kabat-Zinn:
  3. Explore acceptance and respect practices (e.g., ceasefire on attacks, body neutrality, self-care, self-kindness, self-comfort, attunement – listening to your body and responding to what it needs).
  4. Build community to increase acceptance and respect. People find acceptance and respect – and healing – in relationships and connection to others. 
  5. Prompt: How might it help to build a community of others who respect and accept  their bodies? Who do you know who accepts and respects their bodies? How might you access more of these folks?

V. Conclusions and Moving Forward

A. Introduction: The Body Is Not an Apology video:

B. Mindfulness exercise for closing: e.g.,  Drop Anchor from Russ Harris 

C. Prompt: What resonates most with you regarding coming home to your body/Body Trust? What comes next for you? 

D. Questions/reactions/feedback